Gerratana Summary Report Appears Missing
In the early spring of 2010, while working as a reporter for the New Britain Herald, I made a trip to the Town Clerk’s office at the New Britain City Hall. My purpose was to obtain copies of the final campaign accounting of the candidates following the November 2009 city election. The filings are required by the State Elections Enforcement Commission. For the most part, the filings were as expected; however, if memory serves, there was an exception.
In looking through the expenditures for candidate Gregory Gerratana, I found an entry that I remember piqued my interest. Gerratana, you may, or may not, remember, had run for the office of Tax Collector. In September 2009 it was discovered that Gerratana had been responsible for online smears on Republican candidates via the online comments page of the Herald. When it came to light that Gerratana was using state computers to make the accusations he was suspended from his job as a legislative aide at the State Capitol, removed from his job as aide to then State Representative Tim O’Brien, and forced to end his campaign for the municipal office of tax collector.
But time, it has been said, is an unlikely ally of the politician.
Four years later, Gerratana is again running for tax collector as part of a slate of Democratic candidates under current Mayor Tim O’Brien. It would seem that time has allowed for penance, redemption, and a general forgetfulness on the part of the current city administration.
But I digress, what piqued my interest back then, and which I have never forgotten, is one entry of expenditures by Gerratana on the form required by the Office of Governmental Accountability State Elections Enforcement Commission, having to do with lawn signs. I will not specifically state here what was outlined on the SEEC expenditure form, but only because I cannot categorically reiterate what I saw almost four years ago. I can tell you that I remember it being a large amount of money for a specific number of lawn signs. Lawn signs that I did not remember seeing on my travels about the city. I compared the number to most of the other candidates, including then Mayor Tim Stewart, and remember distinctly being surprised because it showed (as I remember) that Gerratana had purchased more signs than Stewart. For the record, Stewart purchased more than 400 lawn signs for the 2009 election cycle. Lou Salvio, another candidate, purchased none, and many other candidates purchased far less than fifty signs each.
I found the expenditure, which was made to the printing company in Massachusetts where his wife worked, so large that it caused me to take the information to my editor for consultation. We didn’t agree that it was worth a trip to Massachusetts and a possible story, so, against my wishes, it was dropped. But it never left me and it may in fact have been nothing, but I was still concerned.
In fact, just last week after hearing that Gerratana was again running for the office of Tax Collector, I went to the New Britain Town Clerk’s office to look up that SEEC expenditure filing. The filings, which are filed with the Town Clerk and not the State, are kept in an open cardboard box in a cabinet. The box, which is about the size of a normal piece of typing paper, is overflowing with the filings. They are stamped, but there was no logbook that would allow for a secondary inventory of what was turned in to the clerk. I found the filing system, if it can be called that, a bit distressing as anyone could, I suppose, add to or walk off with a person’s state mandated SEEC filing.
In the open cardboard box, and in no particular order, I found an exploratory report for the Gerratana campaign. I also found a series of other SEEC reports for the Gerratana campaign. I even found a January 2010 Summary report for the Gerratana campaign. What I did not find was an expenditure report that listed the specific number of lawn signs purchased for the Gerratana campaign that I seem to clearly remember reading. Now memory is a funny thing. Perhaps I never saw the expenditure to his wife’s company for lawn signs that was so much bigger than all the other candidates and which I never saw posted around the city. Perhaps, I never saw an expenditure that was a large multiple of all the other candidates. Perhaps, the phantom SEEC file never existed at all, and it was all just a dream that came to me after Gerratana was less than truthful about his use of state computers for less than ethical reasons during his previous campaign for Tax Collector.
Or, perhaps not. I just wish I could find that phantom summary report so I know for sure.